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Mobile

Contributed by Ric Hattabaugh, VP Sales at FieldConnect

When designing a mobile field service solution, the developers quickly reach a crossroads. Do I build a “Web App” or a “Native App”? There are strengths and weakness of both. Which is right for you?

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This is the third post in Viewpoint’s new blog series by Richard Scott focusing on the Value of Mobile Field Technology

Punch, Snag, Action, Defect, Outstanding Work, Variation, Safety, Damage; there are many ways our customers put our task management tools to work. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the key aspects of Viewpoint For Field View’s tasks management capability and introduce some of the principles which differentiate our approach to managing tasks at an operational level whilst ensuring the data integrity our customers need to drive business intelligence.

Instructing “Someone”, to go “Somewhere” and do “Something” and keeping track of that request is the essence of task management. In its simplest form, this could be a verbal instruction followed up a few days later with a statement like “Have you done that?” This type of uncontrolled and unaudited practise still has its place in the dynamic world of a live construction project, but when the number of tasks you’re required to track starts running into thousands, it’s just not an option to do this. That’s why when the Field View team were first asked to improve the snagging process (or punch lists as our US colleague call it), we started by deconstructing the someone, somewhere, something and thought carefully about how this could be captured quickly and easily using a mobile device.

The “Someone” in the task management process is usually a specific sub-contractor but could also be any other member of the project supply chain. Supply chain members in Field View are defined using four key attributes, Package Name, Trade Discipline, Organisation Name and Role, yet it’s not essential we encourage our customers to define these attributes at the business level. Ensuring that all your projects use the same language is necessary for providing good quality reporting and business intelligence. If your site teams describe the same discipline in multiple ways then it affects your ability to accurately analyse data, deliver reports and determine performance. For example, being consistent with terms like “Painter”, “Decorator”, “Painter & Decorator”, “Finishes” or whatever term you use to describe the organisation that applies paint is important. A supply chain members “Role” on the project determines what information their people can see and what they are able to do when they use the Field View mobile app or when they logon to the website. Field View project roles are configurable and allow very high level of control and fine tuning of a supply chain members rights.

The “Somewhere” in the task management process is most frequently a zone, space or room which is represented on a drawing. Field View requires a task to be assigned to a pre-defined project element which can be defined either as a Location (as described above) or as an Asset, for example an item of plant or equipment. It’s interesting to see that the thinking that was applied to Field View is almost identical to some of the standards being defined for describing today’s BIM data. In fact, so much so that project location and asset data contained within a model that has been extracted to a COBie compliant spreadsheet can be imported directly into Field View and used to populate Field View project geometry. We also recognised early on that our customers work best within a visual world and we introduced the idea of marking up 2D construction drawings over a decade ago. Field View has a unique approach to drawings called calibration. Drawing calibration allows a 2D drawing to become spatially aware which enables a Field View user to drag a task marker onto the drawing without having to pre-select a room space or zone, safe in the knowledge that our app knows where the marker has been placed. QR codes can be used to quickly select a specific location with the Field View app automatically zooming into the relevant part of the drawing – ready for you to start working.

blog3 task screen shot FV on tablet

 

The “Something” in the task management process is managed using Field View common task libraries and again, whilst not essential to the operation of the system, ensures that a task can be raised with the minimum amount of user interaction or screen taps. Common task libraries allow standard operational issues for a supply chain member to be pre-defined and applied across all projects and new library items can be added on the fly whilst out on site.

Field View tasks are user-definable which means that our customer are able to engineer their task management system to an exact specification which is applied throughout their organisation or if necessary, create a specific task definition to meet a special project need. Task specifications are version controlled, so changes made are reflected immediately throughout your business and user community.

Workflow

Finally, any Field View task will have a workflow. A workflow is a predefined sequence of status and colour coding that determine the stage of the task within the corrective action lifecycle. For example, a punchlist task may have a four state workflow defined as “Open”, “Available for Inspection”, “Rejected” & “Closed”. Each workflow status has attributes of its own which can be set to determine whether tasks with that status remain available on the mobile application, or if picture media should be archived to optimise device memory. Task workflow status also works alongside supply chain role allowing our customers to fine tune what project supply chain members can see and what task status they are able to assign. We also maintain a full task workflow audit trail so you can look back to see who updated a task workflow, when it happened, and if it occurred via the web or on the mobile app.

So, there really is a lot more to a Field View Task than meets the eye and this is because our task management system is the result of over 15 years of feedback from operational teams who are using our tools in the field and business users who manage the data we create. This is why Field View is a lot more than just a punch list tool -it’ a sophisticated and comprehensive task management system.
So, I hear you say “This sounds very complicated and a whole lot of work to set-up”. Well it can be if you need to engineer a bespoke task management solution designed to meet the needs of a specific client or project. But if not, the chances are you will be able to use one of the many out-of-the-box Task and Workflow definitions and apply a Standard Project Role to fast-tracking your configuration and set-up.

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Dev Day at Viewpoint’s Tech Center Moves Mobile Development Forward 

By Bruce Kenny, Vice President – Product Development
Viewpoint hosted the first ever Portland Xamarin Developer Day and the turnout was impressive – more than any Dev Day before – with over 100 participants. The event was held at Viewpoint’s new Tech Center (1510 SE Water Ave.) and attendees overflowed into the neighboring café space!

Xamarin is the Mobile Application Development Platform (MADP) that Viewpoint has selected as the mobile platform of choice. This platform gives us tremendous velocity and consistency of functionality across all three platforms – iOS, Android, and Windows – while maintaining the device specific user experience that is critical for fast user adoption.

You may already be experiencing (or will soon) the power of this partnership. The new ProContractor Mobile solution was built on Xamarin. The Field View expansion onto iOS and Windows is fueled by Xamarin. The soon-to-be-released Viewpoint For Projects Field Share product is also made possible by Xamarin.

Xamarin Dev Day October 2015

As with all our partnerships, this one affirms our stance on choice. Viewpoint’s approach is to ensure that the right tool and technology are used for the work you are doing, such as browser-based solutions for light data input or content viewing and rich client applications for heavy data input and data manipulation.

When it comes to our approach to Mobile solutions, we believe choice is equally important. Viewpoint’s investment in Xamarin and other similar technologies allow us to develop and release our mobile solutions simultaneously on iOS, Android and Windows platforms, so you don’t have to choose one platform over another. Furthermore, our approach ensures that all features and functionality are available on all three platforms in the native user experience of that platform. ..

Mobile is the major area of investment for Viewpoint and this event was a powerful reminder of our opportunity to build compelling mobile solutions for our customers across the globe. We are innovating rapidly and we look forward to bringing these advances to market in the near future.

 

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Do Bring Your Own Device Policies Open Up More Risks for Your Company?BYOD from Mobile solutions

If you’ve been considering a “bring your own device” (BYOD) policy for your company – or already have one in place – you may have been caught off guard by the recent California appeals court ruling that says companies must reimburse employees for work-related uses of personal devices. And, you may be wondering what this means for you and your company.

There’s no doubt that BYOD has its benefits, including increased employee convenience and flexibility. On the other hand, BYOD can pose serious risks for enterprises, including data breaches, loss of data and security violations. And now, the court’s ruling has companies scrambling to address this additional complication, which has real implications for companies with California operations who have a BYOD policy.

In a nutshell, the ruling states that California-based employers “must pay some reasonable percentage of the employee’s cell phone bill.” While only applying right now to companies with operations in California, it is a good reminder to all employers that a solid, well thought out BYOD policy can mitigate a lot of uncertainty and unnecessary headaches.

What can you do?

One potential solution is a hybrid approach called Buy Your Own Device. In essence, Buy Your Own Device allows an employee to choose the exact device they want while giving the company control over the management of the device and its plan. So, the employee is happy to have their preferred device, and the company is happy to maintain the security and control they need over their data and networks.

Today’s technology advancements, such as the Managing Wireless Assets (MWA) platform from Viewpoint Development Partner Mobile Solutions, are enabling this level of flexibility and control over mobile devices. Expert consultants at Mobile Solutions are available to discuss whether a BYOD policy or another option is right for your business.

 

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Mobile technology has evolved the expectations of today’s customer when it comes to the service, installation, repair, maintenance or inspection of their critical equipment, infrastructure and facilities. Information and communication is expected before, during and after the service work visit that satisfies the customer’s need for convenience, quality and clarity. This shift presents opportunity for service contractors to meet their customer needs with a mobile app for technicians.

Equip Your Service Team with the Right Mobile Field Service Tools and Features
Fortunately, the same mobile technology molding customer expectations can have a similarly transformative, positive effect on a service contractor’s operations. Mobile service team success depends in large part on how informed technicians are, and in turn, how well they keep customers informed. The right mobile app, working in unison with back office systems, can deliver gains in both customer-facing service, and field productivity. Popular app features include:

• Cross-Platform – Run the native mobile app on your company’s choice of iOS (iPad, iPhone), Android or Windows Mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones.
• Labor Hours — Technicians can record their billable and non-billable hours to the work order so they’re instantly available to accounting with no need for re-entry.
• Status — Current work status for the technician updates schedulers / dispatchers with visibility to availability, and managers can see the progress of the job in real-time.MSI mobile Viewpoint image 2
• Parts — Streamlined parts and inventory software allows quick and easy maintenance of multi-digit alphanumeric part and serial numbers so you can provide updates about parts’ location, availability, and reordering needs.
• Customer Assets / Serviceable Items – Help techs arrive prepared with automatic call info about the equipment they’re dispatched to repair.
• Scopes —Track work on the mobile app in scopes or sections to facilitate scheduling and record-keeping for multi-phase installation or maintenance work.
• Tasks / Misc — Record specific tasks and other miscellaneous charges to the work order or scope on the mobile app for billing backup and reporting purposes.
• Inspections — Field workers can perform guided inspections, complete service reports and other custom field forms right within the mobile app.
• Equipment — Track equipment or heavy machinery usage time, and record to the work order.
• GPS — Mobile device GPS location communicates technician location to schedulers for inter-day work assignment availability.
• Alerts — Field workers and customers can stay informed quickly with receive automated email or text alerts.

Work Smarter in the Field
Contractors with service departments are seeking ways to improve visibility and work smarter not only in the field, but throughout the service department and across the entire organization. Utilizing an integrated, contractor technician-specific mobile app can deliver these benefits and more, including higher worker utilization rates, better management visibility of field activity, and stronger competitive differentiation.

Learn More
Once you’ve made the decision to invest in the success of your service department, it’s time to consider what mobile application will be best for your team. If you’re in the market for a cross-platform, cloud-based mobile app, use this Buyer’s Guide to Mobile Field Service Software—with important tips, guiding questions, and to-do’s—for successful app selection and implementation.

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